Zoos And Field Conservation: A Winning Combination!
The Saint Louis Zoo’s WildCare Institute It’s First Two Years of Working in Cooperative Initiatives
R. Eric Miller, DVM, Director, WildCare Institute, Saint Louis Zoo
The Saint Louis Zoo’s WildCare Institute (WCI) was launched in 2004, and this presentation will summarize its overall cooperative initiatives in its first two years (2004 and 2005). The WCI has focused its conservation initiatives in 12 places (descriptions available at www.wildcareinstitute.org). Recent support has also been provided for emergency captive breeding programs for amphibians in Ecuador, and Asian elephant conservation in Indonesia and Sri Lanka. We are the “home base” for some of the programs (e.g., the Madagascar Fauna Group), co-partners in some (Humboldt Penguin Conservation in Peru), and partners in programs led by others (e.g., the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program and the Serengeti Carnivore Institute).
Initiated with a generous gift from the Saint Louis Zoo Friends’ Association (ZFA) of $750,000/year for 4 years with an additional $4,000,000 placed in an endowment for each of those 4 years, plus $450,000/year from the Mary Ann Lee Conservation Carrousel, the WCI was challenged to take those funds and use them in cooperative ventures that would achieve the greatest conservation value for each dollar. For 2004 and 2005, $2,669,000 was available through the WCI for field conservation (52% from WCI, 24% from partners, 16% from donors, 8% from grants). This represents direct financial outlays and “in kind” services (e.g., graduate student time, etc.) were not included.
Perhaps most notable was that WCI’s partnerships have grown to 180 different institutions. They represent 55 conservation and development NGO’s, 37 US zoos, 31 universities, 30 international zoos, 22 governmental agencies, and 5 other institutions. Historically, the Saint Louis Zoo like so many others, has been a “lifeboat” for many endangered species. However, we believe that cooperative zoo-sponsored, field-based conservation initiatives, are critical to building a larger “Ark” to ensure a future for endangered species in Missouri and around the world.